what defines modern architecture?

The terms— modern and contemporary — have been intermingled in the design world, resulting in a bit of confusion. A kind of confusion that leads us to ask: Is contemporary architecture/design the same as modern architecture/design? The answer is no, and a little bit of yes.  To be very literal, contemporary means now, while modern refers to technological and engineering developments that date back to the turn of the 20th Century.

To keep it simple, modern architecture focuses more on industrial metals such as steel, concrete and glass (innovative industrial developments of the time). While contemporary design may use these same elements, its designs are considered new, re-thought, or forward-thinking.  Clear as mud?  With all that being said, the two designs will always mix and mingle with one another—even in the images in this article.

Overall, modern architecture is defined by clean lines and minimalist interiors that allow the structure to speak for itself and take center-stage. The image below is a perfect example of clean and simple modern architecture.

Modern Design is Unique

Despite its simplistic styling that avoids extra fluff, modern architecture remains unique. In fact, modern architects have created some of the most unique designs to date. Just look to the designs of Frank Lloyd Wright and numerous other iconic architects.

Yes, some of these modern designs may have flat roofs and boxy style, but they certainly manage to be anything but boring. Look around your city streets and neighborhoods—which architectural designs stand out to you the most? The unique one-of-a-kind modern ones, or the traditional designs that tend to mimic one another row upon row? Modern architecture is anything but cookie-cutter.
Look to the originality of the bold, angular roof lines that are so prominent in modern design—these are very unique.  Everything from the vaulted ceilings, to the exposed structural elements, to the unusual linear elements— all equate to a unique, artistic design that you cannot help but be amazed by.

Restrained Palette In Modern Architecture

Less is definitely more when it comes to decorating a modern home. After all, why would you want to hide all the amazing architectural details of the design by adorning it with a lot of extra ornamentation? These designs were meant to speak for themselves, making their own statement through their structure and functionality.
In the image below you can see that the interior decor of this home is kept simple, clean and natural. The furnishings feature elements of steel, wood, and glass that are incorporated to help highlight the real hero—the architecture. Everything is kept simple so that the blueprint of the home and the materials used in its design are allowed to take center-stage.
This is not to say that a modern home cannot have pops of color or added character through decor. It is just that it needs to be done in a manner that adds to the architecture rather than takes away from it.


Warmth in Modern Architecture

A misconception that critics often have of modern architecture is that it’s cool and cold. However, the opposite could be argued.  A large number of modern designs feature elements that are naturally warm and inviting, such as wood and stone.
Floor-to-ceiling stone fireplaces, large windows that let in natural light and vaulted post and beam ceilings— what could add more character and warmth than these wonderfully modern features?  While the pattern may be linear, clean and uncluttered—there is definitely warmth to be found in modern architecture.
Also, most modern plans contain fewer walls, thereby creating a more welcoming, open living space that most people crave.

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